What do Ross Gellar, Jerry Seinfield and Carrie Bradshaw all have in common?
Aside from pathological introspection paired with an insufferable ego, they each exhibit strong attributes of neuroticism.
But apparently this means that, were they to exist IRL, they would not only bedazzle and irritate us with their dichotomising personalities and incessant “I couldn’t help but wonder” musings; they would actually outlive us.
According to a recent study of half a million people in the UK, possessing the trait of neuroticism may reduce the risk of death for those in fair or poor health.
Published in Psychological Science, the research revealed that attributes such as worry and feelings of vulnerability were directly associated with lower mortality.
Whilst for comedians and actors, neurosis might've become a kind of badge of honour, Merriam-Webster define it as a "mental and emotional disorder that affects part of the personality" and is accompanied by a "distorted perception of reality".
In other words, if you worry a lot, get stressed out easily and occasionally lose touch with the real world, you might actually be neurotic, not just hungover.
"Our findings are important because they suggest that being high in neuroticism may sometimes have a protective effect, perhaps by making people more vigilant about their health," explains lead researcher Catherine R. Gale.
The data was collected from people between the ages of 37 and 73. Participants completed a range of personality assessments measuring their levels of neuroticism and were also required to indicate their level of health by providing information on their BMI, blood pressure and cognitive functioning.
During the six year follow-up period, researchers found that nearly 5,000 participants had died, after examining death certificates from the NHS Central Registry.
This showed that those who exhibited characteristics of neurosis typically outlived those who didn’t.
However, further investigation showed that the protective effect was only apparent in those who rated their health as fair or poor.
"We also found that people who scored highly on one aspect of neuroticism related to worry and vulnerability had a reduced risk of death regardless of how they rated their health," said Gale.
Perhaps being labelled as neurotic isn't so bad after all.
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